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This Month at Music Direct: Reviews and New Product Rollouts
By Bes Nievera

As we welcome September and the oncoming change of seasons, we want to take this opportunity to thank you, our valued customers, for being a part of our community. As we adapt to the changing conditions of the world, we have heard from you and remain grateful. From day one of the pandemic up to now, we listened to you. You connected with us on social media, heard your voices on the phone via our sales and customer service teams. We've also appreciated your comments – be they related to contactless pick-up of goods, or kind suggestions to tweak methods and improve as a company. We remain strong as a company and look forward to getting you closer to the music than ever before.

Recently, our friends at Marantz went for the long ball in unveiling its all-new Model 30 Series. From the striking front panels to the cutting-edge electronics, Model 30 heralds a new direction for the legendary brand in fit and finish – and performance. The rollout underscores Marantz's desire for a line that fulfills Saul Marantz's original vision to get the listener as close to the original recording as possible. The ethos was initially distilled with the 2017 launch of its Model 10 components and, ultimately, led to the launch of these decidedly different models. The theme of Modern Musical Luxury is on full view, with accentuated faceplates delivering an unmistakable and timeless look, not to mention the state-of-the-art internal parts. Of special note: The Model 30 integrated amplifier utilizes switch-mode amplifiers that effortlessly manage up to 100Wpc into eight ohms – and double that output into four ohms. With short signal paths, independent power supplies for the preamplifier and power amp sections, and a user-adjustable MM/MC phonostage, the all-analog and fully discrete Model 30 comes ready to play. Its mate, the Model 30n network SACD player, builds on the heritage of its 10 Series cousin by adding an all-new proprietary transport on top of a slew of digital interface capabilities that include Wi-Fi/Bluetooth and on-board HEOS streaming architecture. These exciting products begin shipping this month, and we're looking forward to some great reviews and customer feedback.

Some of you may know Ichikawa Jewel's run of Japan-made Jelco tonearms and accessories has come to an end. Fret not: A handful of savvy turntable manufacturers are using the opportunity to update their analog rigs. For example, Feickert's Volare turntable, a price-to performance winner on its own, now offers the outstanding 9.5-inch Origin Live Silver MK3 tonearm. We have a special bundle that outfits these two peas in a pod with a rigid VTA mounting collar and a MoFi UltraTracker MM phono cartridge. This sensibly priced and drop-dead gorgeous audiophile package is a genuine treat to hear – and one of the easiest to set up. Your Music Direct Audio Consultant can give you all the details.

MoFi Electronics' StudioDeck continues its award-winning march, having just garnered top honors in Hi-Fi Choice's six-turntable shootout. In deciding the publication's Grouptest Winner award, David Vivian opines, "From nowhere to easing past one of the greats is no mean achievement, but the StudioDeck+ really is that good, displaying an open, lucid style that's thoroughly addictive and an almost magical ability to make music come alive in a way that only the best can." Huzzah!

With Sumiko's recent cartridge expansion, reviews are already in play. Part-Time Audiophile's Marc Phillips just highlighted the all-new Songbird MC. His assessment points out the need for mid-priced cartridges that exhibit the emotion of listening to vinyl while watching the wallet, stating: "The Sumiko Songbird, over time, blossomed into one of those $900 or so cartridges that I aspired to own one day during my journeyman years – or at least it reminded me of those old friends and unrequited crushes... We're talking about the kind of cartridge that's perfect for a $4000 turntable/arm combination, and unlike $900 cartridges there are actually plenty of examples of such in today's market."

ELAC just announced its Uni-Fi 2.0 loudspeaker line that basically features, well, new everything. The company says, "This new line builds upon the success of the first-generation Uni-Fi Family incorporating a variety of new features and technologies. Based on feedback from dealers and end-users, along with changes in the market, we have completely re-designed the entire line-up with newly developed drivers, waveguides, cabinets, and networks, resulting in a line that is easier to set up, offers greater compatibility, and offers significant performance improvements."

Shunyata Research's Everest 8000 power conditioner and v2 power cords have drawn nothing but positive customer response since their respective launches. What better time, then, to update its Reference Series interconnects and speaker cables with v2 models? There's a good deal of information to process, but the press release hits on the proven science and patented engineering that continue to drive the company.

To wit: "Delta, Alpha, and Sigma model speaker cables feature our new VTX-Ag conductors... They provide all the advantages of silver wire and those of the finest copper without the negatives of either... The new conductor complement and larger gauge conductors provide greater dynamics, more precise timing and three-dimensionality."

"Reference Series v2 Delta, Alpha, and Sigma interconnects come equipped with the most advanced of Shunyata Research's patented and proprietary signal conductor technologies. Delta model interconnects have been upgraded to include Shunyata Research's patented ΞTRON ® technology. Alpha v2 model interconnects now include the patent-pending TAP (Transverse Axial Polarizer) module that mitigates EMI field micro-distortions. Sigma v2 model interconnects now have dual TAP modules, further improving performance."

"v2 Delta, Alpha, and Sigma digital and clock cables offer performance that has proven superior to any other product on the market, regardless of price... Alpha and Sigma model digital cables feature a phenomenal performance advancement with the CMODE module. This new filter effectively reduces common-mode noise without introducing the sonic compression effects associated with conventional filters and ferrite beads. It reduces high-frequency noise distortion while delivering an analog ease and palpable background silence that will closes the gap between digital and analog front-end performance."

Follow @besnieverajr on Twitter and Instagram

September 11, 2020

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